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Summer 2010: Jacaranda Health on the ground

July 9, 2010

Since Jacaranda Health was founded in January 2010 by Nick Pearson, two new faces have joined the team as summer associates. Farai Shonhiwa and Jane Del Ser are on the ground in Nairobi, helping Jacaranda Health launch its end-of-summer-pilot in testing the mobile health clinic unit to serve the informal settlements and low-incoming housing estates of eastern Nairobi. Eastern Nairobi is a rapid-growth area driven by urban migration and unbounded real estate for development.

Early Birds

Here, Nick, Farai and I are meeting with Bridge Academies International to learn about how this social venture has scaled quickly in the districts that overlap with Jacaranda’s target markets (they’re none too happy about my snapping pictures at 8am in the morning, but such is life and it’s the only good shot of the two together).

Jacaranda Health is an early stage venture that aims to use ICT in the maternal healthcare sector through a combination of clinical, systems and business innovation. There’s a lot for us to do this summer, marketing research and strategy, development clinical protocols, data systems and mobile technology assessment and that’s just the tip of the iceberg. Nevertheless, healthcare and technology innovation is an especially exciting sector to work in and Nairobi is an excellent place to be for social entrepreneurs. It’s just brimming with folks local and from elsewhere who want to make an impact and also deliver sustainable business models. It’s almost as if doing well by doing good is not just a cliché but a realistic challenge to grapple with and bring to fruition.

Feeding Time

But hey, Farai and I will make sure to see the other beautiful and inspiring parts of Kenya during our two-month stint. Why just this past weekend we visited the David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust. My friend Lindsay had told me that these orphaned elephants are cared for and rehabilitated to return to the wild. It’s quite a sight to see a group of baby elephants sloshing around in the mud and playing pranks on their caretakers, whom they regard as their mothers. My favorite part? The baby elephant-sized milk bottles!

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